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Adult Primary Liver Cancer (Adult Primary Liver Carcinoma)

Adult primary liver cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the liver.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Adult Primary Liver Cancer

Adult primary liver cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the liver.

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body. It has four lobes and fills the upper right side of the abdomen inside the rib cage. Three of the many important functions of the liver are:

  • To filter harmful substances from the blood so they can be passed from the body in stools and urine.
  • To make bile to help digest fat that comes from food.
  • To store glycogen (sugar), which the body uses for energy.

There are two types of adult primary liver cancer.

The two types of adult primary liver cancer are:

Read more about Adult Primary Liver Cancer

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Percutaneous ethanol injection for the treatment of early liver cancer

Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide. In the majority of people, liver cancer is diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease and is mostly accompanied by liver cirrhosis. In high‐income countries, about 30% of people present with the more favourable early liver cancer. For these people, percutaneous ablation techniques (destruction of the cancer cells by heat, cold, or chemical substances such as ethanol), surgical resection (removal of part of the liver), and liver transplantation (which is limited by organ donor shortage) are currently considered potentially curative treatments. We aimed to investigate the role of percutaneous injection of ethanol (PEI) and acetic acid (PAI) as compared with other treatments or no intervention for early liver cancer. This review excluded the effects of radiofrequency thermal ablation as this has been already addressed in a previous Cochrane Hepato‐Biliary Group systematic review.

Cryotherapy for liver metastases

Primary liver tumours and liver metastases from colorectal carcinoma are the two most common malignant tumours to affect the liver. The liver is second only to the lymph nodes as the most common site for metastatic disease. More than half of the patients with metastatic liver disease will die from metastatic complications. In cryoablation liquid nitrogen or argon gas is delivered to the liver tumour, guided by ultrasound using a specially designed probe. Ice crystal formation during the rapid freezing process causes destruction of cellular structure and kills the tumour cells.

Laparoscopic versus open liver resection for benign and malignant hepatic lesions in adults

Conventionally, resection of benign and malignant liver lesions has been carried out using an open approach. This technique involves one long incision in the abdominal wall and removal of the lesion under direct vision. In the last two decades, laparoscopic surgery has gained the interest of surgeons, particularly in liver surgery, where resection of lesions is achieved using several small skin incisions in the abdominal wall and the operation is conducted under keyhole camera vision. This comparison of the efficacy and safety of both procedures for liver resection was inconclusive as there were no randomised clinical trials.

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Summaries for consumers

Percutaneous ethanol injection for the treatment of early liver cancer

Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide. In the majority of people, liver cancer is diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease and is mostly accompanied by liver cirrhosis. In high‐income countries, about 30% of people present with the more favourable early liver cancer. For these people, percutaneous ablation techniques (destruction of the cancer cells by heat, cold, or chemical substances such as ethanol), surgical resection (removal of part of the liver), and liver transplantation (which is limited by organ donor shortage) are currently considered potentially curative treatments. We aimed to investigate the role of percutaneous injection of ethanol (PEI) and acetic acid (PAI) as compared with other treatments or no intervention for early liver cancer. This review excluded the effects of radiofrequency thermal ablation as this has been already addressed in a previous Cochrane Hepato‐Biliary Group systematic review.

Cryotherapy for liver metastases

Primary liver tumours and liver metastases from colorectal carcinoma are the two most common malignant tumours to affect the liver. The liver is second only to the lymph nodes as the most common site for metastatic disease. More than half of the patients with metastatic liver disease will die from metastatic complications. In cryoablation liquid nitrogen or argon gas is delivered to the liver tumour, guided by ultrasound using a specially designed probe. Ice crystal formation during the rapid freezing process causes destruction of cellular structure and kills the tumour cells.

Adult Primary Liver Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Treatment of liver cancer in adults depends on the stage. Treatment options include hepatectomy, liver transplant, ablation, electroporation therapy (EPT), embolization therapy, targeted therapy, and/or radiation therapy. Learn more about treatment for the different stages of liver cancer.

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Terms to know

Bile
Fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder that helps break down fats and get rid of wastes in the body.
Glycogen
The stored form of sugar in the liver and muscles that releases glucose into the blood when cells need it for energy. Glycogen is the chief source of stored fuel in the body.
Hepatocellular Carcinoma
The most common type of liver tumor.
Liver
The largest abdominal organ. The liver carries out many important functions, such as making important blood proteins and bile, changing food into energy, and cleaning alcohol and poisons from the blood.

More about Adult Primary Liver Cancer

Photo of an adult

Also called: Adult liver carcinoma

Other terms to know: See all 4
Bile, Glycogen, Hepatocellular Carcinoma

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